LeBron, broken, reminds us he's classless as the Bulls end streak

There are so many wonderful things about the Bulls ending the streak, but one of the more underrated ones is LeBron James reconfirming that despite all the charming Samsung commercials, ESPN Interviews, and ability to not tweet ridiculously stupid things for a year that he's still a petty, low class, adolescent at heart. It's so much easier to hate Darth Vader, and I'd almost been convinced that maybe he wasn't so bad after all. Almost.

Nope. In just a few moments, LeBron reconfirmed that the only difference in his attitude is that he had won, and it's easy to be magnanimous as the winner.

After the game, LeBron refused to shake hands, just like after losing to Orlando in the playoffs. You remember that whole sportsmanship thing that he'd try to convince people he'd grown up and gotten past? Not so much. He's magnanimous in victory, but he's still the same petty sore loser he's always been.

After the game, he gave one of the more amusing speeches about officiating you'll hear when complaining that he has to deal with flagrants and technicals all the time when he defends himself and gave an awesome definition of basketball play.

Hinrich and Gibson wrapping up LeBron while he has the ball driving for the layup is not a basketball play, but apparently LeBron throwing an elbow to "defend himself" against a player standing not doing anything is a basketball play I guess.

This isn't to say I don't get where LeBron is coming from, it's part of the Shaq dilemma . He's so big and strong that players need to use more force to slow him down than he's allowed to use back on them, but the idea that LeBron feels screwed over by the officials is comical, and the fact that he calls what the Bulls did non basketball plays is equally amusing relative to him throwing an elbow for no reason other than he just had taken a hard foul.

LeBron received plenty of reputation calls in this game and got away with plenty of non whistle reputation defensive plays as well.

Top five moments of the game

#5: Nate Robinson's first half pick pocket of Dwyane Wade from behind, advancing the ball, then knocking down the wide open three then give the crowd the Ben Gordon three point monocle as he runs back down the court. The Heat were in a high percentage transition play and Robinson's swipe + three may have caused a five point swing in momentum.

#4: Taj Gibson delivering the hard foul to LeBron James followed up by LeBron losing his cool and ramming Boozer then throwing an elbow at him to draw his own flagrant. It's so fun to watch the king unravel. You think James reacts the same way if he didn't know he was about to lose the game? Neither do I.

#3: Luol Deng knocking down two clutch threes in the closing minutes when the Heat looked like they'd charge back and win the game like they've done to so many opponents during the streak. Chicago had a hard time getting good looks, but there's nothing to cool off a comeback like knocking down a three, and Luol double dipped.

#2 Luol Deng's alley oop pass to Jimmy Butler for the complete posterization of Chris Bosh and follow up scream, walk off, and shake with confidence. Jimmy Butler ain't afraid. That's for damn sure. And just because we're talking about dunking on Chris Bosh, it's worth mentioning the runner up "Bosh is downy-soft" moment. On a key possession for my Miami to stay in the game Bosh corralled an offensive rebound only to have Kirk Hinrich just walk up rip it out of his hands.

#1: The moment the Heat gave up on the game which was about as visually obvious as you'll ever see 'quit' in a game. What makes it best is that typically the coach quits on the game by pulling players, not so. LeBron James visually quit on this game in one of the more obvious fashions you'll ever see a player quit.

Nate Robinson drives right into the lane and puts up a floater. LeBron just jumps up, grabs the rim, and hangs on it while the ball is still 3-4 feet from the hoop causing a goaltend, conceding the basket [which went in anyway], and conceding the game. The game quickly ended after that, and the Heat walked off without shaking hands.

At that moment, you saw the 'quit'. You saw them vulnerable. Broken. Mentally beaten.

They'll bounce back. They'll probably win the title. They're an awesome team, one of the best of all time. I'm not taking that way from them. However, the Bulls broke them at that moment, and even after the game you could see how unraveled LeBron was in his interviews getting offended when asked about what makes Chicago tough to play. He couldn't give the Bulls credit. He couldn't bring himself to say it. Instead he just said the Heat are awfully tough to play too, and the question was unfair.

He tried to downplay how much the streak would have meant to them, but you could tell it was all a pile of crap. You could tell how much it meant, you could tell he wanted the history, and it feels great to be the team to rip history out of LeBron's hands.

Can any of this translate to the playoffs?

So the Bulls are now 7-3 in the regular season against the Heat since the unholy trinity formed. They've won three games without Derrick Rose and a fourth while Rose played half the game while recovering from injury, played god awful, and didn't play in crunch time.

Yet in their one playoff matchup, the Bulls lost 1-4 and lost four straight after taking the first game. There was some poor luck in the game for Chicago as the Bulls had legitimate chances to win three of the four games at the end but just came up a bit short.

So while the Bulls have had absolutely epic moments against Miami in the regular season, moments that will live forever in my basketball mind, the Heat will always have the last laugh if Chicago can't translate these moments to the playoffs, and while we all enjoy winning the battles, the Heat have been winning the wars.

Sadly, I don't expect that to change, but I didn't expect a win tonight either.

Thank you Chicago Bulls

This is why you watch sports isn't it?

You know it's just one game, you know it doesn't mean anything in the long run, you go into it without much hope. That's what makes it so amazing. You get to live vicariously for a moment through your team with every big shot made. Fist pump for the victory, and mimic Jimmy Butler's "I'm a bad ass shake" after posterizing Chis Bosh at the office today.

For a day, we won't care when Derrick Rose returns, we won't whine about our inability to add players, we won't care that we're not going to win the championship this year. For a day, we can sit back and enjoy how awesome that was.

Thank you Luol Deng, thank you Jimmy Butler, and thank you Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, and everyone else who helped grind out some minutes and made a play. Thank you for smacking Miami in the mouth, for showing the world they can be hurt, for breaking them. Thank you for giving us back Bulls basketball. Even if it's just for one night. Thank you.

Filed under: Game Threads

Tags: chicago bulls, miami heat, nba

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  • I don't mind the Heat not shaking hands. They don't need to and if that was still frowned upon, those three never would have come together and there would be a lot more talent spread out in the East, not to mention playoffs that wouldn't be nearly as anti-climatic.

    But you are right about Lebron still being a baby. The first half Hinrich foul was arguably an offensive foul. Lebron lost his balance before he made contact and dropped his shoulder. And the Gibson foul wasn't even close to flagrant. Lebron only looks strong and tough because he plays with Chrissy Bosh, who again had a pretty spectacular no-show in a big game against the Bulls.

    And if Rose is sitting out because he doesn't believe in this team, then my whole opinion of Rose changes. Backup point guard, backup shooting guard, and 36 year old center who should be coaching 8th graders at this point and they punched the best team in the league in the mouth. How do you turn your back on that?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I don't mind the lack of hand shake much either. It just shows me LeBron is still a loser.

    If you never shake hands because you hate the other team then fine, but don't go hand shaking when you win and act all magnanimous then walk off the court like a brat when you lose.

    You don't get it both ways.

    Personally, I prefer the animosity, and am glad LeBron's still a poor sport.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah, like Bullshooter, the handshaking doesn't bother me. Even if did, it's the regular season. Maybe I forget, but I don't remember Lebron shaking hands with the Bulls after regular season games (but that could also be because we're 7-3 against them). I don't think Rose+Noah shakes MIA's hands in regular season games either, especially not after losses.

    With that said, yes, Lebron is still a baby and I too like the animosity because it just adds more fuel/drama to the battles.

    Unlike what Bullshooter said, I don't think Rose is sitting out because he doesn't believe in this team, but because he doesn't believe he can produce on a level where he'd actually help the team win, as opposed to what everybody wants him to do...be a liability for 15min per game as he 'rehabs' himself back on the detriment of the team.

    And for the record, getting up for individual regular season games is not the same as beating someone in a 7 games series. I continue to find it ridiculous fans like Bullshooter make that leap...probably after proclaiming the Bulls 'dead' last month.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    If you are going to lump me in with everybody, you should go back and read both of my comments to figure out which lump I belong in.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Very good win by the Bulls with an injured team basically. Now if only they could do this to Miami come playoff time. This is the reason why I've been saying for a few years now, all this Bulls team need is consistent scoring from other players than Rose and continue to improve the front court guys with dominating the glass, the Bulls can beat this Heat team regularly. All it will take is consistent scoring and the Bulls not the Heat would be the best team in the league.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Taj Gibson had 2 flagrants on LBJ that weren't called. You guys made circus shots and got a lot of calls but whatever. LeBron is the best player in the world and you guys are a no talent workman team that will never win a championship

  • In reply to LBJ#1:

    Stay classy, Heat fans...

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Or they can stay as classy as Bulls fans who cheered when LeBron came up injured during the previous game.

  • In reply to xtrmntr:

    That would be one of those many, many injuries where he impersonates a B-grade actor reenacting child birth but miraculously walks it off within a minute?

  • In reply to xtrmntr:

    That WAS classless, but how are fans suppose to know what's real and what's fake?

    Lebron overreacts to the slightest of touches, so at this point, it's probably the boy who cried wolf...or in this case, the Queen who cried Bosh.

  • In reply to LBJ#1:

    What's a circus shot? Oh, you mean when Jimmy Butler dunked on that raptor you call a ball player? Ok, sure. I'll take it.

  • I don't even mind the shoulder/elbow Lebron gave Carlos all that much (Carlos didn't seem to mind it at all he barely moved). That's competition. That's brushing a guy off the plate. I don't even think it was a flagrant - it was a personal and a tech. Van Gundy's immediate comment when the Heat walked off without shaking hands was, "good that's the way it's supposed to be" and he's got a point. I'm cool with this being a situation where you don't want to pretend you're friends when it's all over.

    But you're dead on about the rim-grab, Doug. And here's where Lebron's postgame really went off the rails for me. He namechecked Kirk Hinrich. He was upset because a 6'3" point guard took him to the ground. So upset that he admitted it on national television. How soft is that? He could've made the same complaint about Boozer or Taj but he was focused on how Kirk was playing too physical.

    I don't want to make too big a deal out of this win. It was nice, the Bulls went out there with a mission and completed it. Onto the next one. We all know regular season wins don't mean jack in the playoffs. What's nice is how they set the prototype on how to beat Miami. Bang the boards, keep them out of transition and attack their strengths. Deng with 28 and Jimmy with 17 were huge - you can't just let these guys key in on Lebron and Wade defensively you have to attack them. I don't know if they can put up those numbers every time but if anything translates to the playoffs it's that it wasn't a fluke like a huge game from John Lucas. They know exactly what kind of game plan they have to execute to beat these guys until Pat Reilly starts feeding Spoelstra halftime adjustments.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Hilariously accurate about LeBron calling out Kirk Hinrich. Kirk must have been working out. He can take down LeBron and rip the ball from Bosh.

    He might start flexing Tyson Chandler style to finish it off.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    You can't say on one hand not to make a big deal out of this one regular season win and then on the other, say we set the blueprint and can do so in the playoffs. We've set the blueprint 2 and a half seasons ago in the regular season and MIA has made the Finals twice, winning 1, and it looks like will make another.

    What you can take out of this win, is something we similarly did late in the ECF series which brought it back to being competitive in the 4th.

    If you remember the ECF, Korver was rendered useless in the 4th quarters and we couldn't score in the 4th. so in game 4 and/or 5, that was when Thibs switched it up and played Deng+Brewer on the wings (like Deng+Butler last night). And although we didn't win those playoff games, we did make it closer.

  • I refuse to try to keep things in perspective, look at the big picture, think about the playoffs or any other damn thing. That was as awesome as a regular season win gets and I loved every second of it.

    I totally agree with Doug that Lebron unraveled with the rim hanging. I texted exactly that to my dad as it happened. My only quibble with the article is that I think Kirk stealing that rebound was even better than Jimmy's dunk!

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    As great as he is, here's my issue with Lebron...he takes every little contact as if he's been shot.

    Kirk gets charged by a 6'8 275lb behemoth where he had to hold onto Lebron to cushion the fall and he still hit the back of his head on the floor. But he gets up and jogs back to the bench.

    Lebron (as someone pointed out, may have been inadvertently swiped at by Nate), hangs on the rim for a good 3-4secs, comes down, bends over and holds onto his neck for about a minute. WTF is that?

    That's the biggest issue I have with Lebron, the reaction and overreaction to every little contact, and when he dunks over someone smaller than him (JET, I heard he did it to some ORL guy too), he stares them down. But hey, maybe Lebron thinks showing up is a 'basketball play'.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    He's taking lessons from Wade, who is the king of overreacting to every tiny bit of contact, often after initiating contact in the first place.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    That is part of the game. If the refs let them sell non-fouls, they will keep doing it! Remember LeBron in a playoff game against the Bulls walking back up the court laughing in front of the world after the refs bought one of his flops? If I were a ref, he'd never get a borderline call from me again.

    Remember last year, LeBron kept hacking Deng's wrist? I consider that really low class -- no sympathy for LeBron if he gets tagged a few times.

    The Bulls, missing 4 players, out-toughed the Heat for a game, and it was great to see!

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Yea, I agree, that was the play of the game.

    It also becomes the point that everybody on this blog(myself included) have to admit that despite the injuries Bulls management made the right call going after Hinrich. His stats just don't tell the story(7, 6 & 5), that play does. The Bulls are 32-16 with him, 7-15 without him, with every thing else going on it is hard to argue with that.

  • And how about our own punching bag, Carlos Boozer coming up with the huge play down the stretch. He boxed out Bosh and tossed Battier out of the way to get the offensive board and then put in in Lebron's face with what should have been an and-one. He came up big in a big game.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Yes, nice to see Booz totally redeem himself after that crazy outlet pass. Good game overall for Carlos.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    If only Boozer could play as mentality strong as he is physically strong (that Lebron flagrant showed us that), Boozer would be a monster.

    But yeah, good job by Boozer last night. After he started to miss FTs late and that crazy outlet pass, I thought he was going to revert back to the disappearing-in-crunch-time-Boozer again.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    That was a huge play, and like Doug said redemption for his moronhole play moments earlier. However, I think that you have vastly exagerated his physicality on that play, Battier spazed and just missed the ball and Bosh conceded position far more than boozer blocked him out. Basically, he lucked into being in the right place at the right time. Never the less big play when we needed it.

  • Great post, Doug. Amazing game. So fun to watch. Being a Hinrich fan, his steal was my top moment. I wonder if this game sticks in the back of the Heat's minds and starts to make them worry just a little about "what happens if Rose comes back?!" Can't wait for the next game in Miami and just pray that this will be a playoff machup.
    Also, I'm so glad Deng played so well. I really think he gives Labron a harder game than anyone else in the league. I'm glad he was able to give it right back to him and just about match Labron's game. I know alot of people on here don't like Deng, but I want him on my team any day.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Short answer, no, MIA is not afraid of us after last night's game.

    'A lot of people' don't dislike Deng, we just know he's making $14mil a year and Reinsdorf won't continue to spend into the luxury tax. So between him and Boozer, he has the most value to get us something (a scorer) in return.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I don't think there's a single Bulls fan that would mind trading Deng if we get adequate value in return but Deng is frequently referred to as a "fake all-star," which sounds like dislike to me.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think most people like Deng, but recognize he's paid more like a star than he is. You'd like more consistent scoring out of a guy making his money rather than just the ultimate glue guy.

    Deng's very good, puts out effort all the time, helps in all areas, and doesn't have any glaring holes. He just doesn't excel in the one area you expect guys making 10+ million to excel at.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    No that means that he is simply not a legitimate all star, a fact which is proved by the fact that we have never been able to trade him for anything remotely close to an all star. Despite knocking down a couple of 3's last night to avoid what would have been an awful game offensively, he is and will remain a 2 time fake all star, or as Doug said in a recent podcast, perhaps, the worst 2 time allstar ever.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    1st Quarter:
    4/8 shooting, 1/2 from 3, 9 points, 4 boards, 2 assists

    2nd Quarter:
    2/4 shooting, 1/1 from 3, 5 points, 1 board, 2 assists

    3rd Quarter:
    1/5 shooting, 0/2 from 3, 2 points, 2 boards, 1 assist

    4th Quarter:
    3/5 shooting, 2/3 from 3, 12 points, 0 boards, 0 assists

    Total: 10-22 shooting, 4/8 from 3, 28 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals

    I don't see how you can sit here and claim he had an awful offensive game "despite knocking down a couple 3's". Take out that third quarter in which the entire Bull's offense sucked and Deng had a very efficient game shooting 50% on mostly jumpers and 3's. Deng stepped it up in the fourth quarter, knocking down big shot after big shot along with all four of his free throw attempts. Who else on this team or that we could have traded Deng for would be better at this point? Deng may not be a superstar and may be overpaid, but he is much better option than many other small forwards in the NBA.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    As long as we are taking out entire quarters, that was exactly my point, if it weren't for the 3's he looked fairly awful.

    What I said, or meant was if he hadn't made those 3's(especially those in the 4rth) which are basically a crap shoot for him his game would have been called awful. He just had a fortunate game where he clanged them in. He was sloppy in ball handling and security and on the break as usual.

    Typical of the typical NBA fan, all that anybody looks at is how many points a guy scores. That why you all love JR Smith or Jamal Crawford, or the BozoHole for that matter.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Taking an entire quarter out was not my point. Even with that terrible third quarter, Deng had a pretty efficient game including some big plays down the stretch. We can't expect Deng to be a main ball handler. He never has, and never will, be a good ball handler. What we can expect is for him to guard the opposing team's best wing player night in and night out for 40+ minutes while still knocking down his open shots when he gets them.

    Also, saying I am just a typical NBA fan looking only at points scored? You posted about how Deng had a fairly awful game offensively. I replied by giving you stats for shooting, points, REBOUNDS, and ASSISTS. Yes, points aren't the only variable to judge whether or not a player had a 'good' offensive night, but they (along with shooting percentages) are generally a pretty good way to determine if someone had a 'good' offensive night or not.

    I don't see how you can sit here and complain about Deng when he was clearly a player who stepped up offensively versus the Heat. At the end of the day, the only thing that truly matters is which team scored more points. What kind of numbers are you expecting Deng to put up to have a 'good' offensive night in your eyes?!

  • In reply to Motoman:

    Again you are not getting what I said, simply put the game he had would have been considered awful were it not for the fact that he clanked in a few 3's. He had one of his few and far between lucky nights where those shots went down so he had a good game. Without those 3's his game was mostly pedestrian, plain and simple.

    The facts are that he is averaging 16 ppg on barely or less than 42% shooting, he has PER of less than 15, which statistically defined as below the league average, he is 5th on the Bulls in PER, would be 6th if Rose were playing, and 150th in the league in PER, which would make him the 5th player on the 30th(last) team in the league. PER may not be everything but it captures a good portion of who the best players in the league are, and who they are not. I am not particularly impressed by 150th.

    Statistically, he is worse than he has ever been since his first season or 2 in the league and peaked 5-6 seasons age.

    He had himself a nice game and helped the Bulls win a game that they don't win in the playoffs. He is however, not a long term part of a championship team, I have said that as long as he has been a bull, and will continue to be right about that as long as he is one.

    As long as Deng and Bozo are the Bulls starting forwards we will not win a title(likely, never make it out of the east), so I really don't care how many times they make the fake allstar teams.

  • There are folks here who like to call Deng a "fake all-star," but few players play Lebron as consistently tough as Deng does. You can't expect Jimmy Butler to slide into the SF role and do the same. Few players at the position can.

    I've heard a lot of railing against Hinrich this year and I think he was a bad signing because he's clearly broken down. But it's clear to me why the Bulls signed him, and it's not because of PR or because he's Reinsdorf's guy or whatever silly theories have been postulated. Quite simply, Hinrich is a good player for the Bulls and he's always been tough as nails.

    Some folks rip Boozer several times for every one of Doug's posts, but he played a great game. Not just the points and rebounds but he was a consistent force in the offense, handling the ball and passing to set up teammates.

    Jimmy Butler, wow! This kid never fails to impress.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    dido, good post

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Lebron scored an efficient 30+ on Deng, once again. I know a lot of people keep throwing 'Deng plays Lebron harder than anybody else', and even if that was true, it's by the most minuscule of amount.

    What Deng DOES do is not back down, and his length does present some challenges for Lebron, but like I said above, Lebron doesn't seem fazed THAT much by Deng. I'm on my phone so I can't get you the actual numbers, by you can check the head-to-heads on basketball reference and you'll see that.

    So a defensive coach, with a defensive team, who's gameplan is set around challenging Lebron, is the biggest reason for Deng's 'success'. For all that talk about Butler not being ready for Lebron, Thibs sure bad a lot of faith in him when he put him on Lebron and Deng on Battier dring several stretches.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    We don't really agree on Deng's ability to frustrate Lebron but if your overall point is that Butler is a better allocation of salary than Deng, I completely agree with you.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Lebron's career average against the Bulls is nearly 30 ppg, which I believe is higher than his career average, so I just don't see Deng as the Lebron stopper. Of course the people who argue that, also argue that boozer isn't that bad on D, or try to argue that he plays good D everytime that he puts up a double double. Deng has neither the athleticism or strength to compete with Lebron, and Lebron seems to have no fear whatsoever going at Deng, especially taking him to the rim at will.

    That is where we really missed Noah last night, he is usually there to attempt to challenge Lebron at the rim with his length. We had none of that last night.

    Deng is nothing more than an adequate NBA starter, whose greatest talent has become his ability to lead the league in minutes played, even though it detrimentally affects his game.

    As of last night he is ranked 150th in PER at a below league average 14.64. Not that PER is everything, but it clearly isn't nothing.

    everybody on the blog massively overreacts everytime anybody puts up a few extra points on any given night, yet both Deng and Bozo are averaging very near career lows this year in most important categories, especially shooting percentage.

    While Deng is not despicable like the BozoHole, he isn't a guy who is all that loveable either, especially at $13-14 million per and as your teams second option of offense. Early in his career, I had hopes that he could become a James Worthy type. Since then, rather than ascending to that level, he has regressed to a much lesser player.

    That is the reality of Luol Deng, and why we shouldn't even consider a new long term extention, unless we want to make a prophet out of Reggie Rose.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    resigning Deng will depend on what he wants, If he wants the Wallace deal of 4/40, I think thats a decent deal for the Bulls but if he wants max level money for his talent--12/13 million a year which some team desperate to make the playoffs could pay him, its time to trade him this year for draft picks. Jimmy Butler is a more natural 3 but he just doesnt have the length like Deng so he's more a tweener. If he can work on his 3pt shot, especially that corner 3, he could be a decent shooting guard. Actually his 3pt shot has improved, he just needs more confidence in shooting more of them.

    I say the first step is for the Bulls to start clearing out the bad contracts, especially those mle blunders they made the last few years and just ride Boozer out one more year and amnesty him next summer. The Bulls will go after a Center in the draft since. I just don't see them going after a perimeter player after they did the last two drafts with Butler and Teague. The Rose thing is confusing me, I refuse to believe he's scared to go out and play and he needs to get out there even if he's wants to restrict himself to 15 minutes a game.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    LeBron has more or less torched the shit out of Chicago every time they play. If Deng is "playing LeBron" tough, I don't see it. LeBron has gone against Deng in Chicago his entire career and has one of his highest scoring averages against Chicago relative to any other team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Although you make some excellent points as usual, Doug, here are a couple of counter-points:

    1. The Bulls W-L record vs. the Heat says that something is working and I do believe Deng vs. Lebron is part of that formula. Even if Lebron ends up with a lot of points, it is frequently in a losing effort.

    2. It's rare to see Lebron have his way with the Bulls. He always gets his points but they make him work for it. Perhaps that's why the Heat often loses those games -- Lebron doesn't have enough gas left in the tank to put the game away as he does against other teams. Even last night, he got a lot of points but had only 3 assists -- not a good offensive game for him, by his lofty standards.

    3. When I have seen Lebron destroy the Bulls, it's often been from long-range and with 3-pointers, especially in the playoffs. There's not much anyone can do when Lebron is knocking down 3s to do go with all his other abilities.

    So yeah, I think Deng plays him tough. I admit I don't see how other PF's play vs. Lebron so I'm sort of judging him in a vacuum.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think what we've done a better job of is shutting down Wade and the cast.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    you could argue though that's because Deng allows them to play LeBron mostly straight up.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think Thibs lets Deng go one on one with LeBron more than most too, which goes along with point #2 & the low assist totals. VanGundy mentioned the great strategy last night too, and says that's how he would attack the Heat, forcing LeBron to score early and pass late, which is the opposite of what the Heat wants to do.

  • Hey, Doug, not trying to be a jerk or anything, but do you still think Brewer is better than Jimmy Butler? If he can be consistant, that kid is a stud!

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Statistically he isn't giving us anymore than Ronnie Brewer did. A few games does not a season make.

  • In reply to Chad:

    statistically he has the 4rth best PER on the team, behind Noah, Nate, Bozo and well ahead of Deng.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Last year he was.

    Now that Thibs actually plays butler this year, no he's not.

    With that said, if we have to trade Deng for financial reasons, I want Ronnie Brewer back on this team to pair with Butler.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I always thought that Butler had the potential to be better than Butler. I just said he hadn't proven it yet. He's proven it now IMO.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    In a do-over of the 2011 draft where would Jimmy Butler be selected? I'd say he'd move up from No. 30 to middle of the 1st round - at least. If Thibs had played Butler more minutes his first season and a half he would have made the rookie-sophomore game, imo.

    His athleticism is elite, as well as his defense, and his offense is improving. He is a bit of a tweener, but he will have a long NBA career. Hope Bulls can extend him reasonably after next season - that is key. He can be a good piece on this roster for years.

  • In reply to Edward:

    yea, the tweener thing sucks, but I hope that he is a Bull for a really long time, even if he is just the ultimate sixth man.

    I called him a baby Taj Gibson last year, this year the question has become is he going to be better/more valuable than Taj.

  • I'm a Bad Bulls Fan,

    It's been a long time since I've been to this blog or watched an entire Bull's game.

    But opening up the newspaper to see the Bull's had beaten the Heat made me smile.

    And watching Heinrich's "tackle" of LeBron James reminded me of why we loved Heinrich for years. He makes a clean foul of James on a breakaway. And then Kirk just walks away from the play like a pro.

    Kirk Heinrich could teach LeBron quite a few things about being a pro.

  • If nothing else this season, I'm just so glad we were the team to beat the Heat and break their streak.

    And I've been saying this for a while, but forget developing Teague, i want the Bulls to reaign Nate.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Agree on resigning Nate.. In the right role which would be obvious once Derrick returns next year. He provides such a spark and has some athleticism as well. Honestly you know who I want to return??? Korver.. We've missed his 3 point shooting Sooo much.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    I really liked the Nate signing, and I like it even more now. However, the Bulls are luxury tax strapped for next season. They have the mini MLE to spend on any and all free agents, which includes trying to resign Belli and Nate. Which one would you rather have, since I doubt that you can get both to split the mini MLE.

  • great article! it almost brought tears to my eyes! really wish i had watched this game. lebron showed his true colors the day he moved to miami. One thing I love about the bulls is they all have character and respect for the game and their team. winning a title by building a team like this will mean so much more when it comes.

  • Great Entry Doug. You were dead on with last nights game being the reason you watch and love sports.

  • Wow, that was quite a diatribe Doug, and mostly undeserved IMO. Most astute media types would highly disagree with your assertion of calling Lebron classless. If you do another podcast with KC Johnson, ask him if he thinks Lebron is classless? Lebron usually does shake hands after losses. However, this loss ended a 27 game winning streak, so it’s understandable if he didn’t want to stick around to trade pleasantries with Nate Robinson or Jimmy Butler. I’ll admit “The Decision” was a classless act, but that was a mistake made by a 25 year old kid listening to his inexperienced handlers. Seems obvious to me that your disdain for him stems from him not choosing to come to your team. Mark my words, if Lebron were a member of the Chicago Bulls, you would love him like a son.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I wrote an article before the decision, at the point where LeBron was viewed by the media as most likely going to Chicago or staying in Cleveland that I felt it would be very difficult to root for him if he were on the Bulls because I thought he was a classless jerk.

    I have several insider stories from people around LeBron that have caused me to have this opinion and felt that way before he went to Miami. That said, I also said I'd get over it if we won a bunch of rings, so no, you aren't entirely wrong.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Would he be any harder to root for than Dennis Rodman was, I don't think so, and Bulls fans immediately took to Rodman as one of our own.

    I'd have no problem cheering for him as a Bull, although right now the Bulls have no where near the cap room to sign him even after amnestitizing Bozo and letting Deng and Hinrich go.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Hard for me to relate, I didn't really grow up a Bulls fan and was actually a Lakers fan in the first part of the Jordan era, so I had no animosity towards Rodman when the Bulls signed him.

    I would have issues cheering for LeBron if we signed him. I would be happy we signed him because he's by far the best player in the league, and I'd know it would make it likely we win championships, but I would feel dirty about it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I can’t speak for your sources, but I really think losing the finals in 2011 has changed Lebron. I’ve seen most of his post game interviews since that time, and he comes off as humble, charitable, and accommodating, the consummate professional. Terrell Owens was a classless jerk. Lebron is the antithesis of that. I’m 100% confident that if Lebron were a member of the Chicago Bulls, Doug Thonus would not only like Lebron for the rings, but for the person he is.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Probably best to point out here that you know shit about what goes on in Doug's head. He's been pretty consistent and measured in what he writes about Lebron.

  • In reply to RichG:

    It's certainly possible I'd like LeBron if he were on the Bulls. As I noted, it'd be easy to get over the fact that he has some faults when you're winning titles.

    However, I don't think losing the finals changed him so much. I think he just won after that, so his faults weren't in such plain sight. As soon as he loses something important he reverted to finger pointing, disrespect, and whining. He couldn't even give the Bulls credit for the win after the game.

    I think LeBron has a lot of adolescent personality traits likely because he never had to grow up since the world has kissed his ass since he was in junior high. Granted, many pro athletes suffer from similar problems for similar reasons.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Lebron was on the top 10 most disliked athletes list in 2012, does he have any responsibility for that?

    After losing the 2011 finals: "All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that."

    So, at what age does Lebron become accountable for being classless?

  • In reply to 4zen:

    I forgot about that quote after the 2011 finals. That too showed a lack of class on Lebron's part. In his defense, I think there was a lot of pent up frustration that came out at that press conference, as a result of all the scrutiny. Since that time, I think he's handled himself quite well, and has made amends from being on that list of most disliked athletes. His teammates love him, and others are positioning themselves to try to play with him. Every NBA fan would love for Lebron to be on their favorite team.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Every NBA fan would love to have LeBron their team. No doubt. I would love to have him on the Bulls too. It doesn't mean that I think he's a great guy though.

    I do think he's handled himself better after the finals, but I've never seen media bend over backwards so much to make it easy for someone as LeBron. In the end, the NBA needs the fans in general to love him so try to paint every story they can about him in a positive light.

  • Totally agree with the second half of your post, totally disagree with the first half.

    Massive over reaction to Lebron's behavior. I think that he did a nice job of keeping his composure in his post game interviews. I think that any of us, were we in his shoes, would have said pretty much the same things that he said. While I think all the calls on the court were made correctly, I can totally agree with a guy getting frustrated for being played that way.

    I can even agree with his calling them non basketball plays, especially the Hinrich play, even though you could make an argument that Lebron ran over Hinrich like a run away freight train. While I am a huge proponent of physical play, I have never liked overty intentional fouls that are meant to be fouls outside the attempt to make a legitimate play. I call it the footballization of the game. While the Bulls are nowhere near the bad boy Pistons of the 80's or Pat Reilly's thuggish Knicks of the 90's, there is still a huge difference between legitimate physical play and going over the line. Nothing that the Bulls did last night was blatantly thuggish, but depending on your point of view you could certainly say that they weren't pure basketball plays.

    Finally, I can't really blame Lebron for taking the shot at boozer. At some point you have to send a message back, he clearly new exactly what he was doing, even if we want to call it losing his cool. It deserved to be a flagrant based on his clear intent, but he probably factored that into his action.

    As for the second half of your post, the game itself(fortunate as it was) is almost certainly going to be the highlight of the season. Breaking the Heat streak is probably way more important to Bulls fans than it is to the players. Feeling wise, it reminded me of the Celtics playoff series from 3 years ago, at least until we ultimately lost.

    We have all been on the Jimmy Butler train all year. However, we have been asking the wrong question. Maybe It isn't time to wonder whether Jimmy can replace Deng, that remains highly debatable. I think that it is legitimate to ask if Jimmy has already become a better/more valuable player than Taj Gibson, and that is not a knock on Gibson.

    My only problem with that being true is that it amplifies how much we may have overpaid Taj. We certainly cannot afford to pay Jimmy what we gave Taj, never mind more. Luckily we don't have to pay him until 2016-17, although he does get million dollar raises in 14-15 and 15-16 he will still be a bargain.

    The big decision starts this summer on Deng and likely drags on for over a year, although Thibs would likely commit hara kari is Deng is traded.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I believe Jimmy Butler is eligible for an extension after his 3rd season, which would go into effect for his 5th season (2015-16). So contract negotiations will begin summer of 2014. Yes, I hope Butler can be extended reasonably.

    I agree Taj is overpaid due to his offensive limitations. About $6mil per would seem more inline with Taj's abilities. But Taj's stock was kind of rising at the time of his signing with his inclusion on the USA Select team, and Bulls couldn't gamble on letting Taj go to free agency after letting Asik walk. But yes he is overpaid as he got similar money as Asik.

  • Oh, and if LeBron ever even CONSIDERS going to your crappy franchise, you will be on your knees sucking his #$%k, so cut the crap. You wish you had The King!

  • In reply to LBJ#1:

    Between you and Lebron attempting to suck his own cock, he'll probably have to wait in line for some time.

  • In reply to LBJ#1:

    Since we're talking about unlikely scenarios, I would take Kevin Durant in a Bulls uniform over lebron everyday of the year!

  • I'm curious, is LeBron as classless as Jordan? I'm sure everyone here has heard stories about Jordan.

  • In reply to xtrmntr:

    Jordan was also classless in many respects. He was a womanizer and horrible to his teammates and held a grudge like no one's business.

    Much like with LeBron the entire NBA went full bore to minimize those stories.

  • In reply to xtrmntr:

    MJ was/is a jerk, nobody cares. Ultimately you get judged by what you produce, not if you're a saint. History is only going to care about what LeBron does on the court.

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    This entire article is about LeBron choosing Miami's beaches (and beeches) over Chicago, right?

    Jordan was great and LeBron is stupid, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

  • Did anyone was thinking of Rose when the Bulls won this game?

    Will Rose start acting like an adult?

    If MJ was injured, he sure would have made a point to play in that Heat game!

    How could Doug did not make one of his top five key points in the game of Hinrich stealing (wrestling) the ball out of Bosh's arms!

    Boozer did good.....just has to stop making those stupid plays of throwing the ball away to the other team.

    Butler will be a "key" in the playoffs........and Hamilton should just pack his face mask and go home.

  • I can't believe the heat trolls have infected this great website. You need to bring out your "ban" stick, Doug. Or else, your comments section will turn out like the ESPN conversation boards.

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    In reply to For the kickout:

    I don't think anything can get that bad........

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